Carolyn Wawra moved to Park City in 2006, planning to stay two or three years. She's fallen in love with the town, which fits her like a glove.
(Christopher Reeves/Park Record)
Carolyn Wawra got a job in Park City and moved here without ever having seen the town. Unusual, but perfectly logical, sort of. The Minnesota native explains. "I went on several ski trips while in college to resorts in Wyoming and Montana. I always wanted to be there for the storm, hoping to get lucky enough to experience a big powder day, but it never happened. A friend finally said, 'the only way to ensure you're there for a snowstorm is to move to a ski town.' I couldn't find a job in my field when I graduated in 2006 because the economy was not so great, so I gave up the hunt and moved to Park City to work at the coffee shop at Park City Mountain Resort. I remember getting off I-80 for my very first look at the place I'd already committed to living in."
It wasn't long before Wawra got her wish - a big storm and a monumental powder day. "I started to fall in love with this town," she says. She spent the next two winters living and working here before making it permanent in 2008. "I told my family I'd move back to Minnesota after two or three years and now it's been almost eight."
Wawra hails from Minneapolis, Minn. The oldest of three children, she enjoyed outdoor activities with her family, especially camping and boating in their vintage 1966 Crestliner, which still runs today. She attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities from 2001 through 2006 and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism.
She met her boyfriend, Chris Neville, in 2003 while playing in the university's marching band. "I played clarinet and he played tuba," she says. "During football season we practiced three hours a day, five days a week, with a game on Saturday. It was basically like being an NCAA athlete. My experiences at the U of M and in the band are some of the best memories of my life. I made such close friends and really learned to be passionate about what I put my time and effort into."
Wawra and Chris dated throughout college and stayed together during her first two winters in Park City. When she made the decision to live here year-round, she issued an ultimatum to Chris - move to Utah with her or they break up. He moved. "I was a lucky girl - I knew it was the real deal at that point," she says. They were engaged in October, 2012, during a trekking vacation in Nepal. Their wedding plans are progressing at a leisurely pace. "We're not anxious. Maybe September this year, something small and intimate with a good party."
After a brief stint at the PCMR coffee shop, Wawra went on to work at Starbucks and with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association as a graphic design assistant from 2006-2009. She landed a job as the snow reporter at Canyons Resort in the winter of 2009 and was promoted to digital marketing specialist in 2011.
"I'm the behind-the-scenes guru for canyonsresort.com and send out all the email blasts from Canyons," she explains. "My background in print and journalism has been a good foundation. I love working on the web, it's so instant! You make an edit and it's completed and live right away. I've only been a web designer for a few years now, but I know it's the career path for me."
Wawra says Canyons Resort is a perfect fit. "I feel so lucky to have a full-time, year-round job at a ski resort. It sure beats a skyscraper in a huge city. I often go run nearby trails like Willow Creek and Rob's on my lunch break. You can't do that downtown."
Wawra, who worked at a Minneapolis Starbucks during college, only recently hung up her familiar green apron. She worked at the Starbucks on Park Avenue two nights a week until last fall.
Her love affair with Park City continues. "I really enjoy being outside and this town offers so many chances to do that,' she says. "I like to run, mountain bike, camp, hike, snowboard and ski and I've never had a problems finding other people to do those things with me. Everyone here has similar interests. It's a great community."
Wawra admits she's still waiting for that epic powder day this season, but she's not worried. "I'll always find something fun to do," she assures. As for her promise to her family that she would move back to Minnesota - well, that's on indefinite hold.
Steve Phillips is a Park City-based writer and actor. Send your profile comments and suggestions to him at email@example.com
- Favorite activities: running (12 marathons so far), skiing, snowboarding, camping, hiking, outdoor concerts. "I love, love love to be outside."
- Favorite foods: pizza, burgers with fries, beer
- Favorite music/performers: Old Crowe Medicine Show, Weezer
- Bucket list: heli-skiing; see all of Utah's national parks; run a race in Europe or Hawaii; see a game at all "Big Ten" football stadiums.